Tag Archives: Tyranny

“Victory … for Religious Liberty for All Americans” After Supreme Court Reverses State-Sponsored Punishment of Oregon Bakers

Lawyers for Oregon Christian bakers call today’s move by the U.S. Supreme Court is a “victory for Aaron and Melissa Klein and for religious liberty for all Americans.”

First Liberty Institute

Aaron and Melissa Klein declined to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple in 2013. Even though same-sex marriage was not legal in the state at that point, the couple complained. State-sponsored moves followed – including a gag order and $135,000 fine – forcing the Kleins out-of-business.

Public targeting of the couple in notoriously ‘liberal’ Oregon was fueled by the outrageous comments by then-head of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, Brad Avakian.

As the couple pointed out, Avakian publicly declared that Christians needed to be ‘rehabilitated’ for their beliefs:

[T]he Kleins argue that Avakian “said that ‘folks’ in Oregon do not have a ‘right to discriminate’ and stated that those who use their ‘beliefs’ to justify discrimination need to be ‘rehabilitate[d].’ ” (Alterations by the Kleins.) Later, the Kleins characterize Avakian as stating that “the Kleins *** needed to be ‘rehabilitate[d].’ “

Caselaw

As I explain in this post, the Supreme Court didn’t choose to decide the case (grant cert) but instead reversed the Oregon Appeals Court decision uploading BOLI’s actions. The Court vacated the Oregon’s Appeals Court decision and told them to do it over in light of the nation’s highest court Masterpiece Cakeshop decision.

First Liberty attorney, Kelly Shackelford, says that Oregon, as in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, was openly hostile to the Kleins:

The Constitution protects speech, popular or not, from condemnation by the government. The message from the Court is clear, government hostility toward religious Americans will not be tolerated.

First Liberty Institute

First Liberty says Oregon’s contempt for the First Amendment was clear throughout its treatment of the Kleins:

The State of Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) found that the Kleins had had violated Oregon’s public accommodations statute after Aaron and Melissa declined to design and create wedding cake celebrating a same-sex marriage. In addition to the $135,000 penalty for “emotional damages,” BOLI issued a gag order, preventing them from even talking about their actual beliefs. As a result, the Kleins were forced to shut down their bakery. Aaron and Melissa appealed the BOLI ruling to the Oregon Court of Appeals in April 2016. The Oregon Court of Appeals reversed the gag order but otherwise upheld the decision of BOLI in December 2017.

First Liberty Institute

First Liberty keeps a website about the Klein’s case. Here’s a video of the couple talking about the Supreme Court victory in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case:

Though the Supreme Court didn’t grant the certiorari in the case, the Klein’s case could end up back there. If the Kleins lose again in the Oregon Appeal’s Court they’re likely to appeal to the highest court again.

ADF: Mayor subpoenas pastors’ sermons. The secular ‘inquisition’ has begun.

Houston Mayor, a lesbian, demands to see pastor’s notes regarding ordinance on transgender bathroom use.

annise-parker-ap
Tyranny, thy name is Annise Parker.

This is what tyranny looks like, folks.

From Alliance Defending Freedom:

HOUSTON – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys have filed a motion in a Texas court to stop an attempt by the city of Houston to subpoena sermons and other communications belonging to several area pastors in a lawsuit in which the pastors are not even involved.

City officials are upset over a voter lawsuit filed after the city council rejected valid petitions to repeal a law that allows members of the opposite sex into each other’s restrooms. ADF attorneys say the city is illegitimately demanding that the pastors, who are not party to the lawsuit, turn over their constitutionally protected sermons and other communications simply so the city can see if the pastors have ever opposed or criticized the city.

“City council members are supposed to be public servants, not ‘Big Brother’ overlords who will tolerate no dissent or challenge,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. “In this case, they have embarked upon a witch-hunt, and we are asking the court to put a stop to it.”

“The city’s subpoena of sermons and other pastoral communications is both needless and unprecedented,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions. Political and social commentary is not a crime; it is protected by the First Amendment.”

In June, the Houston City Council passed its “bathroom bill,” which sparked a citizen initiative to have the council either repeal the bill or place it on the ballot for voters to decide. The public submitted more than three times the legally required number of valid signatures, which the city secretary, who is entrusted by law to examine and certify petitions, certified as sufficient. The mayor and city attorney defied the law and rejected the certification.

After the initiative supporters filed a lawsuit, Woodfill v. Parker, over the matter, the city’s attorneys subpoenaed a number of area pastors, demanding to see what they preach from the pulpit and to examine their communications with their church members and others concerning the city council’s actions.

The ADF brief accompanying the motion filed in the District Court of Harris County to quash the subpoena “discovery requests” explains that they are “overbroad, unduly burdensome, harassing, and vexatious,” irrelevant to the lawsuit, and will have a profoundly negative effect on free speech and the electoral process should they be allowed to move forward.

“The message is clear: oppose the decisions of city government, and drown in unwarranted, burdensome discovery requests,” the brief states. “These requests, if allowed, will have a chilling effect on future citizens who might consider circulating referendum petitions because they are dissatisfied with ordinances passed by the City Council. Not only will the Nonparty Pastors be harmed if these discovery requests are allowed, but the People will suffer as well. The referendum process will become toxic and the People will be deprived of an important check on city government provided them by the Charter.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.